As Christmas approaches, with winter here and the money which is beginning to be spent on gifts, my awareness is heightened of what surrounds me. In particular, it is a time to think of others and give thanks for all that we have.
One of the things I always notice throughout the year is how many homeless people there are along with others that have turned to drugs and alcohol. In this cold weather it always makes me wonder how they arrived where they presently are, what their backgrounds consist of and how they manage to survive. After all, each of us comes into the world in the same way. Initially, we’re a blank canvas ready to be painted by our parents who are the artists of our lives. As we grow, life experience contributes to creating a more defined image and a greater depth emerges as we build upon the color and formations that have been crafted previously.
What was so noticeable when returning to England was how few homeless people I saw, if any. There were no people sleeping in doorways with their trollies containing all their worldly possessions. There were no people wearing the same clothes that had black dirt encrusted on them that they had been wearing for goodness knows how long. There weren’t people who clearly hadn’t had the luxury of a shower and clean clothes in quite some time. There weren’t people begging for money to eat. Although with the latter I’m always a little dubious about giving money. This isn’t because I don’t care, it’s because I don’t want it to be used to feed an addiction. Therefore when I have left over food I’ll pass that on.
The questions I have that beg to be answered are how many won’t make it through the winter? How many people will walk by a person on the ground observing the trolley and the shape of what appears to be a body underneath? I wonder how many of the homeless lying under their blankets will one day not wake up because they didn’t have the warmth/food/appropriate clothing needed to survive the elements.
We have all had times when we have walked past someone who has asked for money and apologetically bowed our heads and said ‘No, sorry’. This isn’t a criticism as we have all done it myself included. There will be occasions in life when money is tight and as insignificant as that may seem with someone who has shelter, it could still be the difference between a meal or not for YOU. I’ve found myself in that position.
In London there are of course a greater number of homeless people; however, I don’t remember it being quite like it is in Seattle. This makes me feel sad.
I watched a documentary recently and I find this subject matter very thought-provoking. It focused on juveniles who had committed murder and were in jail for life without parole. It sounds a little intense for an evening’s relaxation I know!
I’m going through a phase of watching documentaries covering a variety of topics at the moment. This documentary made me feel sad too. Whilst I don’t condone anybody taking another’s life, I do believe everyone has to take responsibility for their actions. However, I felt such a deep compassion for these individuals. Many were open about their pasts and had suffered dreadfully in a variety of situations. But it would seem that these circumstances are often a cycle repeated through the generations until someone is ready to walk away and pursue a life unlike those who have gone before. I appreciate that is an extreme challenge.
This got me back to thinking about those who remain homeless and their journey to the present.
Drugs. They can be a substance that can numb pain from all manner of issues, alcohol does a similar job. If they can’t get help do they fall onto that slippery slope downwards from which there is no escape? Have juveniles run away from home because of what they are subjected to there?
Returning to the documentary, I speculated the anger they suffered became too overwhelming and that vengeance was the only option despite the sacrifice they would be making in their own lives. For some, time has brought a maturity and wisdom through reflection.
When getting a glimpse of the life of someone else it will always be biased in whatever context it’s in. If someone is having a bad day and projects it onto you, you feel annoyance. However, a wonderful quote that I see to make sense of this and to try and bear in mind is:
’Be kind to people and don’t judge,
for you do not know what demons they carry and what battles they are fighting’
– Vashti Quiroz-Vega